By Samuel Oyadongha, YENAGOA
THE upsurge in illegal bunkering and illegal crude oil refining camps popularly known as Kpofire in Niger Delta, has been attributed to the failure of the Federal Government to keep to its promise of making oil producing communities in the region hubs for petro-chemical industries.
Environmentalist, Mr. Alagoa Morris, who spoke with Vanguard in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, against the backdrop of blanket of soots being experienced in communities in the deep swamp of Bayelsa State and other states in Niger Delta, occasioned by the activities of illegal crude oil refiners, warned that the new trend if not checked could spell doom for the region in no distant time.
Lamenting the turn of event in the region, he recalled the words of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo during his interactive meeting with stakeholders, when he visited the state in 2017, said: “We must make our oil producing communities hubs for petro-chemical industries, small and large. We must make these communities hubs for refining and related activities.”
Morris, who is head, Environment Rights Action/Friend of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), regretted that five years after, nothing tangible had been done by the Federal Government to redeem its pledge.
He said: “The level of despoliation in our community is alarming. Only this morning, I got a call from a disturbed native in the swamp area of Bayelsa that blanket of soot had taken over the environment.
“The pollution in the air is now routine and even rain water cannot be used anymore. Sometimes people who want to go to farm stay back thinking rain is about to fall.
“Sadly, because Nigerians, especially Niger Deltans have identified bunkering and local refinery activities as economic means to an end and are massively getting involved despite the militarisation of the region, the state and Federal Governments should share the blame for not being able to holistically address the frightening situation.
“Even the security agencies are aware and acknowledged the fact that as far as oil theft or bunkering is concerned, the bigger thieves operates officially at the export terminals.
“These big thieves, which include the oil companies, security agencies and industry regulatory agency personnel, undervalued quantities of crude oil exported at the expense of the nation, shortchanging Nigeria.“